Fabrication of the world's fastest microfluidic cell sorter

Microfluidic cell sorter chips on wafer© CSEM

Microfluidics in field of personalized medicine

In the era of digital transformation, the demand for improved diagnostics and personalized medicine has driven the development of microfluidics. Due to their size, microfluidic devices can operate at higher speeds than larger conventional systems. In addition, their ease of integration with other technologies creates even more powerful and affordable platforms for personalized medicine research and development.

World’s fastest chip-based cell sorting tool 

 Cellular Highways, the smallest and fastest high-speed cell sorter© CSEM - Cellular Highways, the smallest and fastest high-speed cell sorter

UK-based CSEM partner Cellular Highways is well on its way to commercializing its Highway1 cell sorting tool, which integrates its microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) based microfluidic technology called vortex-actuated cell sorting (VACS).  

VACS technology creates a vortex in a microfluidic channel that sorts cells within 23 microseconds as they flow downstream. This means that cells can singulate 43,000 cells per second, making the Highway1 tool the fastest chip-based cell sorter in the world.  

Developed in the UK, manufactured by CSEM 

At CSEM’s MEMS clean room, 20 engineers work with companies like Cellular Highways to fabricate MEMS technologies and the team is currently producing VACS microfluidic chips. Since the fabrication of these microfluidic chips requires 11 masks and 66 steps, there is a multitude of process parameters that must be tuned, refined, and made reliable for production. The team also performs quality control with automatic visual inspection.

Manufacturing innovation in personalized medicine 

Cellular Highways' Highway1 tool has just completed its pre-beta phase, and the microfluidic MEMS chips fabricated at CSEM were a crucial contribution towards this milestone. With its quality-assured chip fabrication, production and design, the Highway1 tool has tremendous potential to advance global efforts to find effective treatments for diseases ranging from Alzheimer's to cancer, as well as research in regenerative and personalized medicine. Thanks to its comprehensive ISO-9001 certified MEMS design and manufacturing services, CSEM is helping to accelerate the development of revolutionary products and technologies that have the potential to improve lives.